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Going inside an SRC executive session

by Benjamin Herold
for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

Since a shakeup began almost two months ago, members of Philadelphia’s powerful School Reform Commission have been vocal in declaring their newfound commitment to transparency and accountability.

Last week, the three current commissioners set out to show that they’re serious about walking the talk.

Over the course of five remarkable days, the new-look SRC responded to a series of requests by the Notebook/NewsWorks by making interim Chairman Wendell Pritchett available for an extensive sit-down interview, releasing a collection of sensitive confidential documents, and, most notably, granting a Notebook/NewsWorks reporter unprecedented access to an ”executive session”’ – the group’s private discussion before its public meeting.

The last decision, in particular, was a stunning departure from past practice. For years , local advocates have criticized  the SRC for conducting most of its deliberations behind closed doors.

But when those doors were finally opened to one reporter last Wednesday, there was no smoke-filled room.

No secret deals were consummated.

And no politicians showed up demanding favors.

Instead, the meeting revealed a governing board that is still in flux, attempting to manage a dramatic transition on the fly.

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